Below you’ll find lots of Aliens trivia.
- According to the 1991 Special Widescreen Collector’s Edition Laserdisc release of the movie (presented on the Bonus Disc of the 2003 Alien Quadrilogy DVD Box Set), James Cameron turned in the first treatment for the film, called Alien II at the time, on September 21, 1983. Some of the differences between this initial treatment and the final film included the following:
- – The character of Carter Burke was absent, instead, his dialogue was given to someone named Dr. O’Niel, who did not join Ripley and the marines on their voyage to the colony planet.
- – Instead of being taken to the Gateway Station, Ripley was taken to Earth Station Beta.
- – The name of the colony planet was Acheron, taken from the script of Alien, instead of LV-426.
- – Ripley’s daughter was alive, and Ripley had a disheartening videophone conversation with her, where she blamed Ripley for abandoning her by going to space.
- – There were multiple atmospheric processors on the planet.
- – The initial discovery of the aliens on the colony planet is much longer, where it is shown how Newt’s father gets to the site of the eggs and is jumped by a facehugger.
- – An additional scene involves a rescue team going to the site of the alien eggs and being jumped by tens of facehuggers.
- – The aliens sting people to paralyze them before either killing or cocooning them.
- – At one point Ripley, Newt and Hicks get cocooned.
- – The aliens cocooning people are a different breed. They look like smaller, albino versions of the warrior aliens.
- – Bishop refuses to land on the planet and pick up Ripley, Hicks and Newt, indicating “the risk of contaminating other inhabited worlds is too great.”
- – Ripley ends up using the colonists’ shuttle to get back to the Sulaco.
- – Bishop tells her: “You were right about me all along.”
The first draft script was turned in by Cameron on May 30, 1985.
This draft was quite different from the treatment, but very close to the final film.
- Although the first script draft turned in on 30 May 1985 was very close to the final film, some scenes in this version were dropped in the final film. Those include:
- A shower scene with Ripley in a futuristic shower environment Ripley going into more detail about the facehuggers while briefing the Marines, calling the facehugger “a walking sex organ” to which Hudson replies, “Sounds like you, Hicks.”
- There are thirty atmospheric processing units on the planet, as opposed to only one in the final film.
- Newt formally offering Ripley to be her daughter
- Bishop encountering an alien while crawling along the tunnel (this scene also appeared in the final script but neither in the theatrical release nor in the Special Edition)
- The second drop ship refueling itself before leaving the Sulaco under Bishop’s remote control.
- The first draft also included a scene with a cocooned Burke, which was shot but not included in any of the versions of the movie.
- Having hired James Cameron to write the screenplay, 20th Century Fox then did the unthinkable when he left the production to direct The Terminator: they agreed to wait for Cameron to become available again and finish the screenplay (he had only completed about 90 pages at that stage, but they were 90 pages that were loved by the studio).
- While salary negotiations were going on with Sigourney Weaver to reprise her character in the second movie, the studio asked James Cameron to work on an alternative storyline excluding Ripley, but James Cameron indicated the series is all about Ripley and refused to do so.
- There was talk of bringing H.R. Giger back for the second movie to do more design work, but James Cameron decided against it because there was only one major design to be done, that of the Alien Queen, which Cameron had already done some drawings of.
- There were two versions of the “Bug Stompers” logo designed for the movie, one wearing sneakers, and one wearing combat boots as seen on the drop ship.
- Producers David Giler and Walter Hill were keen to work with James Cameron after having read his script for The Terminator. Cameron went in for a meeting with the two producers and pitched several ideas at them, none of which they were that receptive to. As he was leaving, however, they did mention that they were thinking of doing a sequel to Alien, and immediately Cameron’s interest was piqued. Cameron submitted a 40-50 page treatment of what he would do for an “Alien” sequel which contained a lot of ideas for an existing treatment he had done for a script called “Mother”. Giler and Hill loved Cameron’s treatment and commissioned him to write a screenplay. Cameron got the good news the same day he landed screenwriting duties for Rambo: First Blood Part II.
- The initial cinematographer was Dick Bush. However, director James Cameron fired him a month into production because he wasn’t satisfied with the lighting, and the two men reportedly hated working with each other. Cameron then tried to hire Derek Vanlint, the DP on the previous film. Vanlint wasn’t interested, but recommended Adrian Biddle for the job.
- During the sequence in which Newt and Ripley are locked in MedLab, Ripley is attacked by one of the two facehuggers after setting off the sprinklers, resulting in the facehugger wrapping its tail around her neck after jumping off of a table leg. To film this, di
rector James Cameron had the Special Effects crew design a facehugger fully capable of walking towards Ripley on its own, but to make it appear as if it jumps off of the table, and Cameron then used backwards-filming. He set up the facehugger on the table leg, then dragged it off and later edited the piece of film to play backward to make it appear to be moving forward towards Ripley. Crew thought that the fact that water was falling down during this whole scene would affect the sequence that was filmed backward (it would show the water moving up instead of down). In the end, the water was not visible enough to see the direction in which it was falling.
- One of the perfect locations they found was a decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Acton, West London. The only trouble with it was that it was heavily riddled with asbestos. So, a team was sent in to clean up the plant, and atmosphere readings had to be taken constantly throughout filming in this location to make sure that the air was clear of contamination. Ironically, the Acton location turned out to have better atmospheric quality than Pinewood Studios.
- Ripley’s miniature bathroom in her apartment is actually a British Airways toilet, purchased from the airline.
- James Cameron had the actors (the Marines) personalize their own costumes (battle armor and fatigues) for added realism (much like soldiers in Vietnam wrote and drew things on their own helmets). Actress Cynthia Dale Scott, who plays Cpl. Dietrich has the words “BLUE ANGEL” written on the back of her helmet. Marlene Dietrich was of course the star of Blaue Engel, Der or Blue Angel. Bill Paxton has “Louise” written on his armor. This is a dedication to his real-life wife, Louise Newbury.
- The mechanism used to make the face-huggers thrash about in the stasis tubes in the science lab came from one of the “flying piranhas” in one of James Cameron’s earlier movies Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. It took nine people to make the face-hugger work: one person for each leg and one for the tail.
- Like most films, the movie wasn’t shot in sequence. But for added realism, James Cameron filmed the scene where we first meet the Colonial Marines (one of the earliest scenes) last. This was so that the camaraderie of the Marines was realistic because the actors had spent months filming together.
- A complicated effect shot (the Marines entering the Alien nest) had already been filmed just before James Remar was replaced by Michael Biehn. A re-shoot would be too expensive, so the Corporal Hicks seen with his back towards camera is still played by James Remar.
- When filming the scene with Newt in the duct, Carrie Henn kept deliberately blowing her scene so she could slide down the vent, which she later called a slide three stories tall. James Cameron finally dissuaded her by saying that if she completed the shot, she could play on it as much as she wanted. She did, and he kept his promise.
- A lightweight dummy model of Newt (Carrie Henn) was constructed for Sigourney Weaver to carry around during the scenes just before the Queen chase.
- Three different types of smoke were used in the film, one of which has since become illegal to be used on movie sets.
- To most of the crew, the choice of James Cameron as director was mystifying as The Terminator hadn’t been released at that stage. The film’s assistant director continually questioned Cameron’s decisions and was openly antagonistic towards him. Ultimately producer Gale Anne Hurd had no choice but to fire him and he briefly instigated a mass walk-out from the rest of the crew. Fortunately this was quickly resolved but caused some doubt as to whether the film would make it to completion.
- In an interview, composer James Horner felt that James Cameron had given him so little time to write a musical score for the film, he was forced to cannibalize previous scores he had done as well as adapt a rendition of “Gayane Ballet Suite” for the main and end titles. Horner stated that the tensions with Cameron were so high during post-production that he assumed they would never work together again. However Cameron was so impressed with Horner’s score from Braveheart that he later asked him to compose the score for Titanic.
- James Horner wasn’t particularly happy with the treatment of his score for the film despite receiving his first Oscar nomination. He delivered a finished score which didn’t sit well with the edited film. Because Horner was unavailable as he was working on another film at the time, James Cameron had to heavily chop up the score to fit his edit.
- James Horner’s schedule only allowed for him to work on the film for 6 weeks. He arrived in London to perform his duties, only to find that they were still shooting, much less editing. He sat around for 3 weeks before being able to get started.
- The sound-effect used for doors opening and closing used throughout the movie is identical to the sound-effect used for the “automatic doors” in The Prisoner.
- The sound-effect of the video-phone “ring” when Ripley contacts Burke early on in the film is the same as that used for the Village telephones in The Prisoner.
- Sigourney Weaver threatened to not do any more Alien movies after seeing the movie’s final cut, so as a compromise, the 1987 Special Edition was released on Laser-Disc.
- The music that plays when the Alien Queen appears as Ripley and Newt wait for the elevator is a reused piece from Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the original Alien. Thematically, the music appears in both movies at the same time: near the end, as Ripley tries to escape from an alien while the environment around her counts down to self-destruction (the Nostromo in Alien, and the atmosphere processor in Aliens).
- In a scene which was cut from both the theatrical cut and the special edition of the film Ripley gives Burke a grenade so he can kill himself after she discovers him in a cocoon.
- A scene on the colony before the alien infestation was deleted from the final cut. Elements of that scene show up in later James Cameron projects. The line, “… and we always get the same answer: ‘Don’t ask'” was used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The character name “Lydecker” was used in Dark Angel.